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What's editing anyway?

If you want to talk about something you are a master of, try and ask an unassuming question, ‘What’s it anyway?’ If you love being a parent, for instance, then the question, ‘What’s parenting anyway?’ can help demystify parenting rather than undermine it. It is likely that the question enables you to meet the audience where they are at, rather than the other way round.

When a friendly stranger asked me about what I did, I gave her the easy answer. We had both come back from work and neither seemed eager to start a conversation. This was unlike my professional pitch, ‘I help writers and nonwriters develop any idea at any stage into a credible story.’

‘I am an editor.’

‘Oh, you do content.’

I heaved not a sigh of relief but a breath that needed to be managed and eased.

‘No.’ I smiled and told her that anyone who does content is unlikely to know how to develop any idea at any stage into a story that is credible. I told her that anyone who does content or writing or editing may or may not know these:

· Author coaching

· Book proposal

· Literary agenting

· Line editing

· Structural editing

· Manuscript assessment

I added that someone who does all these, on the other hand, may or may not be interested in content work.

Imagine you have a chronic stomach ache and after trying various home remedies, the pain is incessant. First, you consult a GP and only if the GP tells you that you need an X-ray, you will visit a lab, otherwise you do what the GP says.

In case, you get a test done, you may never meet the pathologist but he will still do his job well. If the GP says she suspects you need a surgery based on the results, you will listen to them, right? However, if you were told by professionals that you need a surgery, and yet you choose to not oblige, I am sure you will agree that in time, your insides would scream, ‘Get me the surgeon!’

Like in medicine, creating a work of art necessitates following a process. The example from medicine is meant to emphasize the importance of a process to reach a satisfactory end goal. As a professional book editor who helps writers and nonwriters develop their ideas into credible stories, I am able to assess the need of the manuscript and/or the idea and share the best remedy (read nature of editorial work) accordingly.

The idea behind ‘What’s editing, anyway?’ is to talk about editing and editors as if it isn’t a big deal.

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